Seaweed in the Philippines found to have Anti-Cancer benefits

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Seaweed Anti-Cancer
Pukpuklo, an Ilocano dish, is best eaten fresh and uncooked like a salad. Photo from DOST via PIA.

A seaweed species found in the Philippines was discovered to have anti-cancer properties by researchers from the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

The UST science research team found exciting results as they closely looked at a local codium seaweed species used in a local Ilocano dish known as “pukpuklo” and discovered its anti-cancer properties.

The Codium species, available seasonally from November to March are collected in Ilocos Norte, Aklan, Iloilo, and Cagayan province, is eaten fresh as salad.

The researchers headed by Dr. Ross Dizon Vasquez along with Ariane Marie G. Bayro and Mary Jho-Anne T. Corpuz have discovered the pukpuklo seaweed has special properties that are effective against cancer cells.

Their findings revealed the seaweed “pukpuklo” codium species possess polysaccharides that can effectively combat “enzymes” that aid during metastasis, which is the spread of cancer cells in the body. They evaluated the inhibitory potential of the polysaccharide against cancer and other diseases.

Wait but there’s more!

ANTI-AGING

Other than its potential anti-cancer benefits, it has other potential medicinal and healing properties as well. Pukpuklo has also been evaluated for its potential positive effect on the skin.

Dr. Vasquez said that it induced healthy skin growth and promoted faster healing of the skin. This led them to look at its bio-active ingredients that have medical benefits and possible cosmetic application as an anti-aging compound.

The findings were first presented at the 2019 Values of Philippine Flora and Fauna symposium of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-National Research Council of the Philippines which funded the research.

Dr. Irene V. Fariñas of the Department of Health (DOH), who was among the panel of reactors in the symposium, said that the DOH welcomes this potential drug discovery. This basic research on Codium as potential inhibitor of tumor growth, could possibly lead to the development of low cost alternative to commercial drugs for the treatment of cancer.

According to the DOST polysaccharides are carbohydrates such as starch, cellulose, or glycogen whose molecules consist of a number of sugar molecules bonded together. These kinds of carbohydrates are used by the body in storing energy, sending cellular messages, or for providing support to cells and tissues.

“Yung pukpuklo natin ay may characteristics that can help or makatulong sa paglaban kontra cancer cells,” DOST Provincial Director Jonathan Viernes said.
Aside from being a potent neutralizer of cancer, one can turn to this green seaweed for skin, goiter, and aging issues.

“This has also properties that have an effect on the skin. Nagbibigay din ito ng healthy skin and faster healing on the body,” Viernes added.

DOST Undersecretary for Research & Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara encouraged more practical uses for research, saying, “Researchers, do not be afraid to translate your work into what’s good for the society.”

She added that the Philippine biodiversity is vast and the country’s local species are being studied by foreigners. “We lack researchers who can study our own biodiversity,” she emphasized.

The Seaweed research is in accordance with DOST-NRCP program of using indigenous biodiversity for alternative source of medicine.

Filipino science researchers recently developed the world’s first anti-dengue medicine.

Filipino scientists have also developed medicine from local plants to heal hypertension, gout, and other ailments.

SEND cheers in the comments below to UST and DOST Filipino science researchers for finding the anti-cancer qualities of the Pukpuklo!

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